Patient and public involvement in disarray, warns The King's Fund in response to cull of NHS arm's length bodies

The King's Fund today welcomed the decision to cull the number of NHS bodies working at arm's length from the Department of Health, but warned attempts to involve patients and the general public in the NHS were in 'disarray' following the abolition of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH).

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'We needed to rationalise the number of arm's length NHS bodies. Too often the government's solution to every problem has been to establish an agency, with the result that the NHS has been drowning in an alphabet soup of acronyms. There has been no consistent strategy for deciding what work is best carried out by arm's length bodies, as opposed to what should be done at national or local level. Let us hope this is the start of a more rational approach.

'At the same time we must recognise that not all arm's length bodies are full of so-called 'NHS bureaucrats'. Many have played valuable roles in driving health service reform. For example, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the National Patient Safety Agency will both be crucial in creating a better health system for this country.'

But commenting on the abolition of the Commission for Public and Patient Involvement in Health, Niall Dickson said:

'Abolishing the Commission leaves the whole question of patient and public involvement in health in further disarray. The current range of piecemeal policies does not add up. They are bewildering to those who work in the NHS and a complete mystery to the public. Today's announcement will simply add to the confusion.'

Notes to editors: 

1. For further information, interviews or to attend the event, please contact The King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585.

2. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.